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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  February 25, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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on our broadcast tonight, battle lines in arizona over a controversial plan that some say would legalize discrimination. tonight, high drama over the governor's decision. weight loss. there's stunning news about the obesity epidemic in our country. the new numbers that caught even doctors by surprise. the price you pay. a warning for anyone on medicare. something that's happening to a lot of patients. how two small words could cost you a fortune. tonight we have an update on one of our most talked about stories. and tom brokaw reports. tonight, a candid conversation with angelina jolie and a military hero whose extraordinary life is about to become a movie. "nightly news" begins now.
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good evening. it's just one state out of our 50, but tonight what's happening in arizona is being compared by some to the epic battles this nation has fought over lunch counters, separate drinking fountains and restrooms. arizona republican governor jan brewer tonight faces a hugely controversial decision, whether or not to veto a piece of legislation. it would give business owners in arizona the right to refuse service to gays and lesbians. or for that matter to anyone based on their own religious beliefs. both u.s. senators from arizona, both fellow republicans, are urging the governor to veto the bill along with big businesses there, like apple and marriott. and the nfl is weighing in as arizona is set to host the super bowl there next year. it's where we begin tonight. nbc's mike taibbi is in phoenix. mike, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. governor brewer has just arrived back in arizona after a conference in washington.
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but while she hasn't tipped her hand yet, the momentum toward a veto is building fast. >> veto, veto, veto! >> reporter: there have been daily protests over the republican bill allowing businesses to refuse to serve anyone base on religious beliefs. but gay rights activists say there's no question about the targets of the bill. >> this is absolutely about legalizing discrimination. and it is so broadly based that it can allow any business to discriminate against anyone. >> it happened in washington state, where a florist refused to provide flowers for a same sex wedding. and in oregon, where a baker wouldn't make a wedding cake for a similar couple. the other side, michael salmon of the harvard christian church says the bill protects the rights of any private business to serve whom they please. >> if that person wants to refuse your money, he is in the business to do that. >> reporter: but there's been a ground swell of voices this week urging governor brewer to veto the bill. some notable names from her own
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party, including john mccain and mitt romney, and a lot of corporate voices including apple and american airlines concerned about a potentially disastrous effect on the state's still fragile economy. >> we do think this would cause harm to the state's reputation and into the business environment. >> reporter: it's already threatened ben bethel's clarendon hotel, despite his sign saying we serve everyone. he said gay customers inquiring about refunds and cancellations. >> that would result in about -- i'd say about 12,000 now, to $14,000 in lost revenue to the hotel. and that itself results in almost $2,000 in local and state sales tax revenues lost. >> reporter: but with the tide turning, even republicans who supported and voted for the bill, like state senator steve pierce -- you didn't think it was targeting the lgbt community? >> not at all, no. >> reporter: they're now urging brewer to veto it. >> we made a mistake, and now we have to fix it.
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>> reporter: if the governor doesn't sign or veto the bill by the end of the week it becomes law automatically. still, this morning an aide to the governor said this bill was never part of her agenda, another hint that a veto is likely. brian? >> mike taibbi starting us off from phoenix tonight. mike, thanks. now to a new fight that's erupted in public today over the end of the war in afghanistan. fed up and frustrated, the president of the united states issued an ultimatum to the president of afghanistan today. after 13 years of war, it affects how and when every american finally comes home. our pentagon correspondent jim administration chef ski is tonight traveling with the chairman of the joint chiefs in afghanistan. he joins us by satellite from bagram air base tonight. jim, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. u.s. and nato leaders were already scheduled to meet tomorrow in brussels to talk about the way ahead in afghanistan. instead, they may now be looking for the way out. joint chiefs chairman general
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martin dempsey was about to land in afghanistan tonight when he got the word. start preparing to pull all u.s. troops out of afghanistan by the end of the year. >> we are at a point where we have to begin planning for other options. >> reporter: in a phone call today, president obama again urged afghan president hamid karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement that would protect any american troops who remain in afghanistan once the war is officially over at the start of next year. karzai once more refused. white house press secretary jay carney said the president immediately ordered plans for a total u.s. withdrawal. >> this is about, essentially planning for a post 2014 mission. and there are a lot of complexities involved in asking the defense department to plan for a zero option, that is a full withdrawal. >> reporter: general dempsey said karzai may leave him no choice. >> as the military leader of our country, i can't ask young men
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and women to serve in a country without the protections afforded by a bilateral security agreement. >> reporter: karzai had used the security agreement to try to pry concessions out of the u.s. there's a chance, but no guarantees that presidential elections in april could elect a new afghan president who may sign the agreement. the white house was planning to leave as many as 10,000 u.s. troops in afghanistan to train and assist afghan forces. instead, plans now begin to withdraw all 34,000 american forces from afghanistan. but the biggest challenge will be removing the millions of tons of u.s. military gear, all in a tight ten month time frame. general dempsey warns, al qaeda is still alive and active here. and worries about leaving that job undone. >> so we need to have an ability to have a credible, stable, reliable partner in afghanistan against al qaeda for the
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foreseeable future. >> now, general dempsey would clearly like to leave a small residual american force here in afghanistan. but there is a growing sentiment among u.s. military officials here in afghanistan and at the pentagon that now may be the best time for the u.s. to pick up and get out. brian? >> jim miklaszewski from bagram air base in afghanistan for us tonight. jim, thanks. now we turn to this stunning news today about the obesity epidemic in america. it just broke late in the day, and the news is this. researchers say there's evidence of a dramatic drop in obesity among young children. and new questions about what's behind it. it's not all good news across the board, however. we get details on all of it tonight from nbc's rehema ellis. >> reporter: the report presents encouraging news in the fight against obesity among children. researchers tracked two to five-year-olds and found the
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obesity rate went from 14% in 2003 to 8% in 2012. that's a stunning 43% decline in obesity. experts say, it's one of the first clear signs the scales are tipping in the right directions. especially among children participating in obesity prevention programs. and doctors say it's imperative to start healthy habits long before kindergarten. for parents who think that it's just baby fat and they're going to grow out of, they're saying, think again. >> yes, kids do not grow out of their baby fat any more. that just doesn't happen, because of the super sized portions and the unhealthy foods that we're eating. they don't grow out of their fat any more. so we need to treat them as soon as possible. >> reporter: the first lady, michelle obama, known for her fight against childhood obesity today said healthier habits are becoming the new norm. but there is also caution. researchers say these young children are just a small
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fraction of the american population. overall numbers of obesity have not changed. and for women over 60, the obesity rate has actually increased. brian? >> well, let's hang on to good news we did get today. rehema ellis with us tonight. as always, thank you. we turn overseas now to ukraine, still unstable after the president was driven from power four days ago. that has prompted this country to send in a small team of specially trained marines to help protect the american embassy in kiev just in case. we're also getting a better understanding of why so many ukrainians were so fed up with the president, viktor yanukovych. for many, it begins just north of kiev at a lavish 340-acre estate he left behind, where we can now see how he lived. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel takes us inside what is being called tonight a monument to corruption and greed. >> reporter: ukrainians still hunting for their deposed president, today flock to ring
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his doorbell and pose for pictures on the grounds of his former estate. with police gone, it's guarded by protesters now. but there's been no looting, just curiosity. and like with so many fallen leaders, there's no accounting for taste. viktor yanukovych kept a fancy riverboat here, gilded, the bar stocked with his own private label. a garage that was stocked too. and a private zoo. and over here is an enormous chalet flanked by greco roman statues. perhaps appropriately here, the cornucopia, the sign of abundance. in front are ornamental hedges, they've been covered and winterized. this entire area has become a tourist destination. as ukrainians come to see how their former president once lived. inside the residence is palatial. a suit of armor, a billiard room. and decorations including a stuffed cat.
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he lived like a caesar with his own replica of a roman temple in the yard. >> he buys this building, but doesn't give this money for people who really need it. >> reporter: activists and journalists found documents dumped in the river by the house and have been drying them out. along with receipts for lavish spending, they include black lists of politicians and reporters. and plans for cracking down on protesters. yanukovych is now wanted for murder, and his house has become a museum of corruption and excess. richard engel, nbc news, outside kiev. >> what an unbelievable scene. still ahead for us tonight after a break, the price you pay. hospital patients caught off guard and it's costing them big. our follow-up report this evening about something everyone on medicare should be aware of. and later, what's in the water? the new warning tonight about a
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kind of slow moving disaster headed toward american shores.
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back now with another installment in our continuing series of reports, "the price you pay." those hidden costs in every day life that are taking a toll on so many american families. tonight our focus specifically is on health care. and we have an update on a story we first brought you last month. the first time around it provoked a huge reaction from a lot of our viewers. it's about the words that appear on hospital forms. and small differences in the fine print could mean thousands of dollars in payments down the line. we get our follow-up report tonight from our national correspondent kate snow. >> reporter: brenda kelly was driving her husband doc to an appointment when he started having symptoms of a stroke. at the hospital, doctors told them they were putting him under observation.
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>> i was really frightened. what's wrong with my husband? and then they came over with this observation status. i questioned why. >> reporter: brenda is an advocate for seniors in virginia, so she had heard that term, "observation status" before and thought it might be trouble. and then a nurse spoke up. >> he said, this could have an impact on what you pay. >> reporter: the nurse was right. you have charges for physical therapy, speech therapy, medical care. >> the total is $22,170. >> reporter: and here's the thing. medicare pays for rehab only for people admitted to a hospital as inpatients for three or more days, not if they were classified as observation status. it's what happened to m.j., under observation with a broken leg, and now saddled with a $28,000 rehab bill. >> the whole thing is so outrageous, and it's not right. >> this is not something you learn in medical school. and it's really an administrative arbitrary decision. >> reporter: this doctor from
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harvard school of public health says there are times when it makes sense to label a patient under observation, when someone's having chest pain, for example. but most of the time he says it's not a medical decision, it's a financial one. >> administrators who have to manage billing issues, they're the ones who end up teaching doctors when to try to use observation status. >> reporter: wait. the people that are in charge of billing? >> yes. >> reporter: are doctors feeling under pressure? >> yes. so i think there's very clear pressure on doctors from the hospital to make determinations in a certain way so they will get paid for that hospital care. >> reporter: and patients get caught in the middle. >> i think it's a very complex administrative rule that medicaid has put together. it's deeply unfair to patients to sort this all out. >> reporter: if it happens to you, ask if you're under observation and if you'll need rehab. if so, argue and be persistent. like brenda. she asked so many questions, the hospital administrator finally relented and changed doc's status to inpatient.
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his $22,000 rehab bill was covered. >> if my husband had been there by himself, he would have accepted the observation status. >> reporter: what would that have meant to you if you had to pay that? >> my goodness, it would have been terrible. >> reporter: experts say you should fight for a status change in the hospital because medicare appeals later on, brian, can take years. >> as we've seen a lot of nice people getting caught up in this innocently. kate snow with our follow-up report tonight. thanks. we're back in a moment with a life changing discovery. what one couple found on their property and why they wish to remain anonymous tonight.
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we'll do more on this story as the date approaches. but there's a potentially bracing prediction from a group of scientists that low levels of radioactive cesium could arrive on our pacific coast as early as april. like the solid waste that has already washed up in so many places from the pacific northwest on south, this too is from the fukushima nuclear plant. scientists say there are no readings yet at any of their 16 tracking sites. and they are not worried about radiation levels in the water when it does arrive.
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asiana airlines has just been hit with the largest fine of its kind in the aviation business. half a million dollars for how they treated the fatal crash in san francisco this summer and their customers. taking as long as two days to contact some of the families after the crash. federal officials say no airline until now has ever broken u.s. laws that require immediate assistance to families after an accident. consumer reports is out with its list of ten best cars. again, it's the all electric and rocket fast tesla that tops the list. but it's expensive and it needs juice. they make top ten picks in every imaginable category, including the ten worst. while we will put it all on our website tonight. among the headlines, the dodge ram truck breaks through to top ten status. honda, subaru, toyota do well again. as do audi and bmw at the high end. drivers in las vegas who
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find themselves in a fender bender are being advised to handle it themselves and not call the las vegas pd. the department says their officers need to devote their time and attention to bigger crimes. starting next week, they're asking drivers to do the right thing. exchange the paperwork, deal with the insurance company and file their own accident report. but where minor accidents are concerned, it could be said, if it happens in vegas, please deal with it yourself. and imagine this. you're walking the dog near your home in a rural area of northern california. and while you may be aware that the california gold rush started about 50 miles from where you live, the 49ers and all of that. it's not like you're constantly thinking about it, but one of you, and not the dog, notices a tin can sprouting up from the soil near the base of a tree. you pull it the can. it reveals more cans alongside. you open the first can and it's full of gold coins from the 1800s. over 1,400 gold coins.
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there's dirt on them, but they're mint, uncirculated condition. easily $10 million worth on the collector's market. the middle aged couple does not want to be identified. they don't want their property overrun by modern day prospectors. they say they don't want to be treated differently. if you're an interested numismatist or even a coin collector, you can read more about the coins that were found. it's all on our website tonight. when we come back, tom brokaw with angelina jolie and the story of a real american hero.
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finally here tonight, we can all learn something from the
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life that louis zamperini has lived. a life that has spanned almost a century, defined by challenge and perseverance and triumph he faced before and during world war ii. now a book about his life, "unbroken" is being made into a film by angelina jolie. and that as we hear from tom brokaw tonight is a story in itself. >> this is a love story, set in a secluded canyon in the hollywood hills buzzed by hummingbirds, and often the paparazzi. it's home to an american legend, 97-year-old louis zamperini. his story immortalized in the best-seller "unbroken", soon to be a major motion picture. >> you train. you fight harder than those other guys, and you win. >> a track star in the 1936 olympics, during world war ii, louis' bomber was shot down in the pacific. he survived 47 days in a life raft, and then barbaric war crimes in a japanese prisoner of war camp. >> i can take it, i can make it. >> he described himself as a dead body breathing. was that the moment when you
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almost gave up? >> no, i didn't. i never gave up. i just thought, well, what's left? nothing. just skin and bone. down to 65 pounds from 155. it was heartbreaking. but it's -- i've never had a thought in my mind ever about giving up. >> that's the attitude that inspired the director of the film, "unbroken," superstar angelina jolie. >> hello. hi, louis. >> oh, my god, i miss you. >> oh, i miss you. >> i miss you, honey. >> she read the book. overwhelmed by louis' story, she pitched universal studio, owned by nbc's parent company, to make the movie. >> i put all my boards in a garbage bag and i carried them to universal myself and put them out. and i pitched my butt off. >> she was astonished when she finally found out where her hero lived, literally just across the way. they were neighbors and never had a clue. >> yeah, i can show you my roof
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from the window. >> did you have any idea he was your neighbor? >> i had no idea. and i couldn't believe it. i can imagine for the last ten something years he's been sitting there, having a coffee in the morning and wondering who's going to make this movie? and i've been sitting in my room laying there thinking, what am i supposed to do with my life? i want to do something important, i want to connect, i need some help, i need some guidance. where is it? and it was right outside my window. >> tom brokaw with the story of louis zamperini and his famous neighbor from across the way. that is our broadcast on this tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we, of course, hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.
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right now at 6:00 a growing concern about the south bay's water supply. at this hour, officials are deciding how to keep nearly 2 million people out of a serious crisis. good evening and thanks for joining us. i'm raj mathai. >> i'm jessica aguirre. drought decision time. how much water people in the south bay can use? it's taking place as the entire bay area gets ready for a big storm. jeff ra near -- ranieri is
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tracking the storm and we begin with marianne favro where they are talking about conservation. >> reporter: jessica, they are. in january the board asked south bay water users to cut back use by 10% but now our water situation is so bleak, tonight the board is back in here expected to recommend cuts of 10%, something that hasn't happened since 1992. consider this liquid gold, which is why tonight the santa collar ray water district is expected to recommend 1.8 million water users to reduce usage. >> the recommendation is to set a target of 20% water use reductions, but also, to encourage our cities and county and retail water providers to utilize mandatory restrictions to reach that goal
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